Melodrama Queen, beautiful actress Sara Montiel
Who is she, this favorite of the public, who has won fame on two continents, the notorious “Chauntecleer Queen”? One of the stars of not the first magnitude on the horizon of the commercial screen? A beautiful woman who demonstrates her exotic charm in bright outfits against the backdrop of gilded interiors and oleographic landscapes? An actress, whose talent may seem problematic if you confine yourself to the criteria worked out in contacts with high-quality cinematography.
Biographical information about Sara Montiel is contradictory and confusing: serious movies almost never mentioned her, and mass magazines took little care about reliability. The date of birth was 10 March 1929. Place of birth – Spain, Campo de Criptana.
Severe poverty of the Spanish village. Gloomy atmosphere of the Catholic family, where the daughter since childhood was prepared for the monastery. Early musicality (aged three she sang folk songs, at seven – learned all parts of three operas by heart). The flight of an eleven-year-old schoolgirl to Madrid for a children’s song contest and a victory in this contest. For the first time she became known as a singer. She studied at the music academy, played in the theater, and sang on the radio.
When film director Vicente Kasanova began to look for young talents, she was among the few lucky ones. No wonder, she played in fims since the age of fifteen. “I never had to study my profession anywhere,” – we read in one of Sarita’s interviews.
Sara Montiel – pseudonym of María Antonia Alejandra Vicenta Elpidia Isidora Abad Fernández. Why she abandoned her real name, it is clear: in the Spanish language, Fernandez meets too often. Anyway, Alexandra Fernandez appeared on the screen only once, giving way to the victorious Sara Montiel.
Of the first films of Sarita worthy of mention is the serial historical insurgent “Madness of Love” (directed by Hias de Orduña, 1948), stands out for its spectacular grandeur.
“My fame came to Spain from Mexico,” says Montiel. In Mexico, Sarita sang and danced in countless films. And according to the classification of the magazine “Films and Filming” she was a “quickie”, which means hastily made art production.
In the pipeline stream of more or less professionally worked “Why do not you love me, dark-skinned?”, “I do not believe men”, “Violet seller”, “The last song” and so on, there was an uncomplicated formula of “film with Sarah Montiel”. In particular, at least four – five songs, and around in various combinations all the same elements of the same melodrama, with a particular set of features. Among them – honest poverty, a small loving heart, jealousy by mistake, fidelity against temptations, broken hopes, realized dreams, fatal accident and rewarded virtue.
She also starred in Hollywood: Aldrich (Vera Cruz, 1954), Fuller (The Flight of the Arrow, 1957), Serenade by Anthony Mann (1955). Most notably, her appearance in the western Aldrich, where she was in a good company with Gary Cooper and Bert Lancaster; but here she did not manage to break out of the stereotypes foreseen by the genre of “passionate fatal Spanish”.
Hollywood polished her screen image, giving it the corresponding Spanish-Mexican charm. In the Hollywood period, Sarita earned well, then married (for director Anthony Mann); but on Hollywood soil, she still did not get accustomed, rushing from there to Mexico, “where the audience understands the words of her songs.”
Again Mexico, again on the screen in various versions of “violetera”, a saleswoman of violets, a girl who, as a result, gets the fabulous congenial “happy end” as a prize for kindness, a pleasant voice and beauty.
Meanwhile, in 1959, Sarita went to Spain to shoot in the film “My Last Tango”. This is her final return to her homeland, and the return was triumphant. In Spain, with her Mexican films, she defeated all the favorites of the audience, including Carmen Sevilla and Marisol. The press speaks of her as an idol, comparing her to Brigitte Bardot. According to press, Montiel’s popularity in Spain is difficult to imagine: she is a “national Sarita”, a spoiled child of spectators of various categories. The Spaniards are grateful to her for exporting national rhythms with her color films, reminding Europe of the existence of the country turned by the Francoists into the backwoods. Noteworthy, films with Sarita in Spain provided the highest box office.
Sarita appeared next to Mario Lanza and Joan Fontaine in “Serenade”, with Rod Steiger in “The Flight of the Arrow”, with Mark Michel in “The Sin of Love”. Also, with Frank Willard, Fernand Grave, Magoli Noel and Gabriel Ferzetti in “Lovely Lola”, and with Raf Vallone in “The Saleswoman of Violets.” In addition, three times her partner was Maurice Ronet (“Carmen from the Main Square”, “My Last Tango”, and “The Nights of Casablanca”).
The desire to become a star of international scale led to the need for equalization with world standards. Besides, now she does not need to obey the absolute power of the producers – she is the producer herself. The actress invested her money into the production of films – and turned out to be a good business woman.
She made a film about the main “pop street” in Spain – “Tuset Street”. There she plays with Patrick Bosho, portraying the “star” of the stage Violetta, the character is more “European” and “authentic” than her previous Martha or Charito. Her ideal is Claude Lelouch.
Actress, producer. Well, what is Sarah Montiel – not a screen Sarita, but a woman? Do not try to get an idea of her personality based on the impressions of journalists and the interviews she gives. A Bulgarian journalist writes that she is “intelligent, serious and well-versed in classical Spanish literature”. And French – that from this typical inhabitant of the Iberian peninsula “hears the sin of Andalusia”. According to some sources, she would like to play in the film without songs, for how to tell about the deep emotions of the heroine, if so many have to sing? While another source states that she can not live without the songs in which her soul is poured …
Most likely, Sara-Sarita says what they want to hear, while retouching and modifying her image. But the ability to catch the expectations of the interlocutor and the viewer – isn’t it a talent?
Queen of melodrama, beautiful actress Sara Montiel
Based on the article in the magazine ‘Actors of Foreign cinema’, 8-1973